Android 4.0 Tablet Roundup

Category: Gadgets

I'm ready to buy an Android powered tablet, but I want one with the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich software. I've considered the iPad, but I'm just not an Apple fan, for various reasons. Which of the current Android tablet offerings do you recommend?

Which Android Tablet Should I Buy?

Android 4.0, code named Ice Cream Sandwich, was released in October 2011. Tablets powered by the latest Android operating system are now appearing on the market. Even though the price of the iPad2 was recently reduced by $100, Android tablets are hot. Some like the lower price point, others prefer the more open Android ecosystem. Today, you can find Android 4.0 tablets in a host of sizes, feature sets, and price ranges. Here are some to consider...

With its optional docking keyboard, the Asus Transformer Prime looks more like a slim laptop than a tablet. The $499 Transformer Prime features 32GB of RAM and a 1.3 Ghz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. The 10.1 inch display's resolution is 1280 x 800, and it has an "outdoor" brightness booster that makes the display 50 per cent brighter than the iPad.
Android 4.0 Tablets

The mobile dock gives you a full QWERTY keyboard, touchpad, and USB port, transforming your tablet into a notebook. There is a 1.2 Mpixel front-facing camera and an 8 Mpixel rear-facing camera. GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth are standard. CNET calls the Prime "sleek and sexy," and I'd say it's currently the top of the line Android tablet. It's a bit lighter and thinner than the iPad, has a slightly larger screen, and costs $100 less than a comparable iPad 3.

The Acer Iconia Tab A510 is a high-end Ice Cream Sandwich tablet that sells for $450. It features a 10.1 inch screen with 1280-by-800 pixel resolution. It's powered by the Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, which has four Cortex-A9 CPUs and 12 graphics cores. The A510 has micro-HDMI and microUSB 2.0 ports, a microSD card reader, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Need photo and video capability? There's a 1 Mpixel front-facing camera and a 5 Mpixel rear-facing camera that can record video in 1080p resolution. Acer's A510 will be serious competition for the Asus Prime. It's available for pre-order now, and will be shipping soon.

Sony will update its tablet family with Ice Cream Sandwich in April, the company announced. The dual-screen, clamshell design Tablet P ($550) and the more traditional one-screen Tablet S ($500) will get Android 4.0.3, but with some heavy tweaks by Sony software engineers. One new feature, called "small apps," allows one to launch a Web browser, calculator or remote control app on top of the current screen without exiting the current app. Sony's current crop of Android tablets running the Honeycomb OS are quality products, and get high marks for both design and ergonomics.

Coby Electronics Corporation introduced two new Android 4.0 tablets which are slated to ship in March. The 7-inch MID7042-4 ($179) and 9.7-inch MID9742-8 ($279). The 7-incher comes with 4 GB of RAM while the larger model sports 8 GB. Otherwise, both models are identical: a 1GHz ARM processor, 1 GB of RAM, 802.11/b/g/n WiFi, and a camera. Thousands of free apps are available to Coby customers through the GetJar app store.

Access to the Android Marketplace (now called Google Play) is possible but requires some nerdy fiddling. Coby has a reputation for selling low-priced electronics that are not always of the highest quality. I'd recommend waiting a few months before purchasing one of these, to see how the early adopters rate them.

ViewSonic's $169 ViewPad E70 will start shipping later in the 2nd quarter of 2012. It has a 1 GHz processor, a 7-inch screen, a front-facing camera, and a MicroSD memory card slot for storage up to 32 GB. The capacitive touch screen supports 800 x 480 resolution. The ViewPad E70 also has a micro-HDMI port so you can stream content from it to an HD TV.

Of course, you don't need a whole new tablet to get Android 4.0. Many tablets that shipped with Android 3.2, code named Honeycomb, are or soon will be upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich. Check with your tablet's manufacturer or your mobile service provider to see when and how you can upgrade to Android 4.0. And if you're interested in Android tablets that double as ebook readers, see my related articles Apple iPad Versus Kindle Fire and The New Nook Tablet.

Another factor to consider, Windows 8 is scheduled to ship later this year, probably in October. So you can expect to see a slew of new Windows 8 tablets featuring the new Metro-style interface. At this point, nobody knows if Windows 8 will be a big hit, or another Vista-style disaster. If you're in the market for a tablet, I wouldn't wait to find out.

Do you have an Android tablet you love? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Android 4.0 Tablet Roundup"

Posted by:

27 Mar 2012

How about the Toshiba Thrive? I should have mine this week.

Posted by:

27 Mar 2012

any comments on the new Samsung Galaxy 2 10.1 inch tablet?

Posted by:

Tom Evans
27 Mar 2012

I read your article "Which Andriod Tablet should I buy" and you mention that the "ASUS Transformer Prime" features 32GB of RAM? is that correct.

Posted by:

27 Mar 2012

Can one write script on these tablets with a stylus? A paint contractor came to my home and wrote her measurements, notes, etc. on a tablet device with a pen tip stylus. She then docked the device to a keyboard, did a bit of typing and printed out everything (in typed text) onto her company form. She was able to see her written script while she keyed in the info on the keyboard. I'm not sure if the software translated any of her script to text. She said the device was a "tablet pc" and was marketed, in general, to trade professionals. I haven't been able to find such a device. What is it and where can I get one? Thanks!

Posted by:

27 Mar 2012

Good to see some tablet news in your email updates.

I've been using a Xoom for nearly a year. I didn't want a tablet - it was a gift. Now I love it. So much easier to take on a trip than my laptop - and does everything I need except for gaming. A little time off from that never really hurts.

Android Market may not have the gajillion apps Apple has out - but I only need forty or fifty to take care of business and pleasure.

I don't think they even make the Xoom anymore but my tablet is far from antiquated. I'll be using this for some time to come.

Posted by:

27 Mar 2012

I want to buy the Samsung Note smart phone, I would like to know if there are many models with different specs or just one. I will buy the international version unlocked since I travel a lot. What do you think? I love it for it's a smart phone and a tablet in the same time. What about the price? Should I wait or not?

Posted by:

27 Mar 2012

Toshiba Thrive to receive update to ICS this spring.Excellent multi storage capable and the only tablet that allows user to change battery when needed.

Posted by:

27 Mar 2012

I've been using my Kindle Fire since I got it in December, and I am still impressed with it. The limitations are far overshadowed by the low cost. Battery life is long, and even watching a movie in the middle of the night is pleasurable. I recommend it to anyone looking for a tablet......Oh, and you can read books on it too!

Posted by:

27 Mar 2012

I received (january 2012) a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet, 16 gigabytes.
It is so convenient for checking most of my email (except home, where our primary email provider downloads email to our harddrive or we have to retrieve it on a dinky system. Boo on centurylink). Anyway, I like my tablet but detest a touch screen! I can not remember the times I have typed wuite a ehile, only to lose it because I bumped somewhere on the screen. I learned touch tuping, and if I try to do that in any version the keyboard locks up. Argggggggggg. And with the Samsung keyboard, in order to use numerals or punctuations, I have to change keyboard screens! At least with my old little BlackBerry phone, I can go faster thsn on this Samsung thst I am on now.
Games are fun on this tab and mine takes VERY good photos!
It will not print unless I somehow send whatever to my home computer then print out later. Only a Samsung wireless printer works, the booklet says.
I dread the day my bsttery plays out! I have to send the tzb some where and this tab is full of everything, including passwords or personal info. Aren't ALL tabs having to be sent somewhere when batteries die?

Posted by:

Gerry L
27 Mar 2012

Great info here Bob! I own the Remarkable HP Touchpad with both Web OS and Android 4.0. Truly a wonderful device. Being technically savy I installed Ice Cream Sandwich using my home computer by downloading files and transferring them to the sd card on my touchpad. I must say being able to dual boot into either operating system is awesome. I don't know of any other tablet where you can do this. I can also install Linux if I want and then have a tri boot tablet. I might add there are very informative videos on the web. I purchased your book Tips, Tweaks and Tools and find it to contain a wealth of valuable information.

Posted by:

27 Mar 2012

My Prime has a good interface and easy to use but::
Battery life about 6 hrs under heavy use
USB/power plug feels insecure and prone to failure?
WiFi mediocre range
GPS very weak under all but ideal conditions, inaccurate
Slippery case, I am going to drop it sooner or later
SD card sticks out too far, may pop out and get lost.
Been using the Prime since Christmas (3 mos)
Had a Playbook and feel its hardware was superior in most ways!
Some PB apps better suited for Canada
7" tab was hell of a lot easier to handle
Would keep the $250. Playbook if I had to do it over again. David

Posted by:

27 Mar 2012

I luuuuuv my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (& the querty keyboard dock); beautiful high-def screen; lots of cool apps that are either free or low-cost and I can have both the Kindle & Nook ereader apps

Posted by:

28 Mar 2012

LOVE my Xoom! It keeps me entertained and I can use it to take notes at meetings. I love that I can tap into the internet via bluetooth from my Android phone. I have multiple aps set up on both devices so no matter what I have with me I can do what I need. I find that I do almost all of my reading on my Xoom now from books to periodicals to web sites.

It's also a large enough screen for my 53 year old eyes to read without straining!

Posted by:

Ryan James
28 Mar 2012

I have a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet, which I love. It has a Kindle e-reader, but I still cannot get comfortable with reading e-books. I use the tablet mostly for reading news and definitely not as many things as I had initially believed I would.

Posted by:

28 Mar 2012

I bought the original Motorola Xoom and it is a fantastic machine which has recently been upgraded with ICS. It does everything and more (has Flash). I have an Ipad also but actually, due to Flash, I find myself using the Xoom more than the Ipad. My husband plays games on the Ipad so it does get used somewhat. The Xoom has all my music, books, favorite apps and movies to keep me well entertained wherever I go. The battery life is excellent and I couldn't be happier. I will have it a long long time I'm sure.

Posted by:

Richard Pederson
30 Mar 2012

I have had a Motorola xoom for almost a year and really enjoy it.It has all the connectivity that your top choice has with the additional benefit that it uses android operating system as released by Google with no need for the tablet manufacturer to modify the new release to work with their product.

Posted by:

26 Nov 2012

My ninety year old father is in the market for a game type device (not gaming). He has macular degeneration and would like something where he can play solitaire and other traditional types of games. Any suggestions?

EDITOR'S NOTE: An iPad, Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire should all be good choices.

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